(These ideas are explicated in this sloppy manifesto)

Saturday, December 13, 2003
To rise above it...

John Venlet at Improved Clinch offers this observation:
Here's my decision. I am going to do whatever I want. I will not coerce you to do anything. If you attempt to coerce me, I'll either ignore you, or, if you coerce me at the point of a gun, I'll defend my right to decide for myself. I will do unto others what they do unto me. If there's a group label for that, let me know.
The name for this behavior is 'human.' Very rare. Few enough of us can work up the humanity to object to coercion, in se, except when it's our own ox that's being gored--and often even then only while it's being gored. Of those few, far fewer can restrain themselves from attempting to push other people around when their essential independence becomes insufferable. We are born of mammals, and to rise above that animal nature and become fully human is goal few people even conceive of, much less achieve. One of my favorite phrases from Robert A. Heinlein is "monkey-talk," by which he meant the language the herd uses to prevent any would-be human from escaping it. Echoing this, in Defusing the Unabomber, I said:
Our enemy, always, is the chimp who, by his screeching, screeching, screeching, demands that we return to the veldt.
It's unfair, I suppose, to compare all (or at least most) people to the worst among us. But, time and a vector, we are either moving in one way or the other.

Once, when I was a kid and I was home sick from school, my grandmother brought me a biography of Booker T. Washington. At every slip, at every slight, at every insult, at every act of animal viciousness, his mother would say, "Rise above it." You could argue that this was counsel to a stoical or even suicidal forbearance, but I read it as an admonition never to become what you despise. To dare to object to being pushed around is hard enough, clearly. But to dare to be human--not just to live but to let live--is much harder.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

The incomparable Thomas Sowell defends the incomparable Wal-Mart in Capitalism Magazine:
Much is made of the fact that Wal-Mart has 3,000 stores in the United States and is planning to add 1,000 more. At one time, the A & P grocery chain had 15,000 stores but now they have shrunk so drastically that there are probably millions of people -- especially in the younger generation -- who don't even know that they exist.

An anti-trust lawsuit back in the 1940s claimed that A & P 'controlled' a large share of the market for groceries. But they controlled nothing. As the society around them changed in the 1950s, A & P began losing millions of dollars a year, being forced to close thousands of stores and become a shadow of its former self.

Let the people who run Wal-Mart start believing the talk about how they 'control' the market and, a few years down the road, people will be saying 'Wal-Who?'
I like the article, but it suffers from a common defect: It rebuts the supra-terranean complaint. I suppose that is all one can do, but the true issue the left takes with Wal-Mart is underground: Wal-Mart it puts its unionized competitors out of business. This is why the poor people of Oakland will have to overpay for groceries and why the INS is SHOCKED to discover that Wal-Mart cleaning crews, like all other cleaning crews, are composed of illegal aliens. Wal-Mart does its job better than its competitors for less money, which is what every rational consumer wants. But the left doesn't need better for less, it needs reliable unionized foot-soliders and cannon-fodder. Wal-Mart undermines this objective, so false pretexts must be contrived to slime Wal-Mart. Sowell is doing what he can to wipe away the slime, but it won't make any difference. Wal-Mart can do better for less. Or it can protect the overpaid jobs of union members. But not even the incomparable Wal-Mart can do both.

Cigarette smokers outstink the dead!

Drudge had this a day or two ago, but his link was broken. I shared it with my kid for obvious reasons, and now I'm sharing it with you as a kind of Darwin Awards nomination. From
Police were called back to the nightclub -- the last place Mr. Sanchez was seen alive -- when neighbours complained about a foul odour coming from the Village Cabaret.

If not for a recent citywide ban on smoking in bars, investigators said, they might never have found the body.

Neighbours of the club, in a trendy downtown Winnipeg neighbourhood, said they noticed the foul smell more than a year ago, but put it down to spilled beer and stale cigarette smoke.

'Sometimes it reeked of sewage when you came in in the morning,' Kerrie Drine, a business owner in a neighbouring building, told The Winnipeg Free Press. 'We had to light incense to get rid of it.'
My nomination for the Darwin Award doesn't go to the drunken DJ who wedged himself into a crawl space and died a quick but lonely death. It goes to cigarette smokers. Knowing that you'll smell better after cigarettes kill you seems like a good reason to quit now.